As Bobby Cox enters his final year as the Atlanta Braves manager, I find myself feeling both nostalgic and eager for a new skipper. Us Braves fans have always held Bobby in high regard. I mean, he is the fourth-winningest manager in Major League history, has the most wins of any Braves manager, four Manager of the Year awards, the all-time ejection record, the only person (player or manager) to get ejected from 2 World Series games, and took the Braves to 14 consecutive division titles. However, in light of the past 3 seasons, I am ready for something new.
Here’s my highly opinionated 2 cents.
Conservative to the core. Bobby Cox is arguably the most conservative manager in baseball, and coaches strictly by the book. If a pitcher’s getting high on pitch count, he’ll pull him – no matter how good he’s doing… we’ve lost a lot of games the past few years because of this. Someone like Tommy Hanson will be pitching a stellar game, Braves are up 3-0, he hits 100 pitches or so by inning 7, gets pulled, bullpen loses game. This burns my mitt.
He gives guys way too many chances. I know that this can definitely be a good thing, but sometimes I want an aggressive coach who will bench players if they are sucking, so we can win some games. This is one of the reasons players love playing for Bobby so much, and I get it. However, in the recent past, there have been guys like Corky Miller and Greg Norton, who couldn’t hit a softball. Bobby has not only given these guys playing time, but he has brought them off the bench in crucial situations, when way better hitters were sitting the bench, like MATT DIAZ or DAVID ROSS.
Pitching and home runs. For most of the 90’s Bobby’s success was due to stellar pitching and big power, and it worked. Not anymore… well, the pitching might this year. The past three seasons, our big bats consisted of Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, and that time when Texiera visited for vacation. We have had the ingredients to be a dominant team… if it’s managed based on “small ball” and taking chances, and not with hopeful home runs. Bobby, please send some signals to steal bases this season.
Platooning Diaz. Most fans haven’t heard of Matt Diaz. He has about a .310 lifetime batting average, a .316 avg as a Braves, and he gets platooned. If he played on any other team, he would be an All Star. Three seasons ago, he had the highest batting avg in the NL, but wasn’t eligible to win the batting title because he didn’t have enough games under his belt. The only logical conclusion as to why Matt Diaz is not an every day starter for the Atlanta Braves must be because there is a “Platoon Me” clause somewhere in his contract.
So, Bobby, from a desperate Braves fan, please keep starters in longer, stop worrying about the “pitch count”, pinch hit good hitters in crucial situations, play Diaz, and let’s play some small ball for cryin’ out loud. We forgot what October feels like.